Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Software is smarter – maybe piecemeal hardware will be just a memory. What if devices were marketed just like paint color palettes? You know, those strips of colors that go well together, samples you can easily assemble as examples of how the trim will look with the walls and the color of the doors? What if you had the same experience buying a device in the store or online – and the items that went together were presented as selectable – beyond just memory and storage?
As Suze Orman says, what do you want to buy, and can you afford it? So you want to buy a tablet. Your online or in-store bundle selector software asks you a few simple questions about what you want to do with it. (This could also be a person asking, or a person guiding you through the onscreen tool.) Questions include: work or home use? Out and about or at a desk? Do you need accounting software for a business or tax prep? Take and display photos, movies? Play games? Office software included? Do you own a printer and what did you use to print from before? Do you need paper? Do you already have a wireless network in your home? If not, does that matter? How far from wall-chargers will your new, new thing sit – defining cable lengths. What is your budget for this device and related parts?
Done with questions – Now the palette choices appear. And they are combinations, not products. The device – let’s say tablet, will be pre-configured with a few apps and menu setups for you to review. You select – because the combination matches what you need. You add a few additional options – from an Also-add-this menu – including a few sessions of Getting-Started-With training podcasts. Then, just like the Tesla charging stations that are next to a Starbucks, you are told to go have coffee. The system is priced, presented in a visual package with a bow, and it is time to check out, either online or from a physical store.
The new, new thing – it’s at your home and you love it. Just imagine, taking a tablet, laptop, or smartphone out of its box, plugging it in, discovering that it was already patched with the latest security updates, because that’s what retailers do as a matter of best practice. A testing program or person has run each of the menu items to verify that it works as advertised. If the new, new thing is in your home with your existing network, the device queries whether there are pictures or files saved on other devices that could easily be accessed by the new, new thing. You smile -- there is your music, your documents, your browser is configured as you need it to be. You are asked politely -- would you like to try printing? It works perfectly. And you smile again.